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4th Annual Tennant Custodians Are Key Contest Launches

October 05, 2022 11:35 AM by Tennant Company

Posted in Staffing & Personnel Industry News & Trends

Does Your School Have a “Super Custodian?” That’s the theme of our 4th annual Custodians Are Key contest that celebrates superheroes from K-12 schools in the U.S. and Canada that keep schools safe, clean, healthy, and fun. To nominate your school’s custodian, click here. Nominations are being accepted now through November 15, 2022.

We launched the Custodians Are Key program in 2019 to recognize the unsung heroes who go above and beyond their daily job duties to show students and staff they care. Over the years, we have received more than 5,000 nominations and selected three grand prize winners. Let’s look at what made past grand prize winners so special and where they are now.

Hernandez Jetting Off to Costa Rica

Our 2021-2022 grand prize winner, Gladys Hernandez of Blue Valley CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) in Overland Park, Kansas, is packing for a trip of a lifetime. In October, Hernandez is using her $5,000 value prize to travel to Central America, where she lived before coming to the U.S. 21 years ago.

Hernandez captured the top prize in the Custodians Are Key contest for regularly checking in on students and staff in addition to performing her regular job duties. Every day, she greets students and staff at the door with a smile and an encouraging word. Hernandez takes pride in knowing that the foundation of her work makes a difference in the students' and teachers' ability to learn. In addition to Hernandez’ prize, Blue Valley CAPS received $10,000. The school is working with Hernandez to identify a need that will help all its custodians. This recognition and ceremony served as a rallying point for Blue Valley CAPS after a trying two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following her win, Hernandez received additional industry recognition. Cleaning & Maintenance Management (CMM) profiled her for besting nearly 1,000 other custodian nominees across North America.

Gladys Hernandez 2021 Winner

Henley Still Beaming with Pride

Alonzo Henley 2020 Custodians are Key Winner

Our 2020-2021 grand prize winner, Alonzo Henley of Brownsville Middle School in Miami, Florida, says the Custodians Are Key contest “truly made a huge difference in my life.” After his win was announced, school employees, students, and community members were excited to see him. Henley’s win was featured locally in the Miami New Times and on CBS News, which made him a recognized local hero in the Miami community.

Henley has been serving the Brownsville Middle School since 2005 as part of the security and custodial staff. He is also a mentor to the students, sponsoring the 5000 Role Models initiative and he played a key role in preparing the building for the school’s Reopen Smart Return Safe efforts. Prior to the return to school in the fall, Henley worked through the summer to make sure students had a safe learning environment for the new school year and even conducted home visits to ensure students had all the resources they needed.

Even through unforeseen adversity—recovering from a car accident that prevented him from working the last half the 2000-2021 school year—Alonzo kept in touch with and encouraged the students in the 5000 Role Models program. During his recovery, he was able to enjoy the package of Apple products he chose for his $5,000 value prize. As for the Custodians Are Key contest, Alonzo says: “What an impact it has made in my life.”

Kantor Will Forever be the 1st

Kris Kantor of Hayes Elementary School in Lakewood, Ohio, is the first grand prize winner of our inaugural Custodians Are Key contest, which kicked off for the 2019-2020 school year. He is well known in the Lakewood community for being fastidious about organization and cleanliness, making his school the best building in the district.

Following his win, Kantor was featured on, in the local Lakewood Observer and on the industry publication CMM. He intended to use his $5,000 value prize to get a new grill and patio set. When Kantor learned he was selected from more than 2,000 nominees at a surprise celebration at the end of the school year, he had this to say: “I’m just beyond excited. It’s unbelievable. I can’t thank Tennant enough.”

Hayes school staff and students are also thankful for Kantor. He makes a point of learning everyone’s name, including more than 300 students and staff. In addition, he created a program called “Kids with Kantor,” where he works with students on special woodworking projects during one lunch hour a week. Using donated materials from local retailers, they build everyday objects and Kantor teachers the students about tool use, safety and teamwork.

Kris Kantor 2019 Custodians are Key Winner

The Custodians Are Key Program

From September 13-November 15, 2022, Tennant invites all school administrators, teachers, and parents to nominate their custodians here. Starting in November, a committee of judges from Tennant will select 12 finalists based on the quality of the nomination and the impact the custodian makes on his or her school. The first three finalists will be announced in December and the remaining finalists throughout the 2022-2023 school year. All finalists will be chosen from the entire field of nominees and will receive a $500 Visa gift card. In May 2023, Tennant will select a grand prize winner from the pool of 12 finalists, and the winner will receive $5,000 while their school will receive $10,000.

Is Your School’s Custodian the Next Bigger Winner?

As we launch the 2022-2023 Custodians Are Key contest, the previous year’s winners elevate the playing field for superstar custodians in North America. But we know there are many more superheroes out there. If you have a custodian in your school that you think should be recognized, be sure to fill out a nomination form online. Your custodian may be among this year’s finalists—or even the grand prize winner!


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